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Racism or Patriotism - The NAACP vs. the Tea Party Movement

Updated on July 23, 2010

Is the NAACP playing the race card in their resolution?

This is an issue that has been all over the news in recent weeks.

It has also been quite the controversy concerning the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and their portrayal of the the Tea Party Movement, which was formed as a backlash to the economic policies and reforms of President Barack Obama, as racists.

On the surface, the fact that the followers of this movement are mostly made up of conservative whites has led to the NAACP being convinced that they are out to get Obama because they can't accept an African American in the White House, and that this vitriol would not be as intense if he were of Anglo-Saxon descent. 

I'm not surprised at the tea party's reaction to the NAACP's resolution charging them with having "racist elements" and linking them to white supremacist groups. For most Caucasians in America today, being called a racial bigot is the most hurtful thing one can say, no doubt due to the fact that it invokes images of the Ku Klux Klan burning crosses, "Whites Only" signs covering everything from bathrooms to water fountains, and civil rights workers being abused and killed in the South.

I understand that conservatives such as Tea Party Express leader Mark Williams, who was recently removed from his post due to a racially insensitive letter that he wrote, feel that the NAACP is unnecessarily playing the race card in response to the movement's animosity over what they feel are the socialist economic policies that Obama is trying to push through Congress. However...

It's also my conviction that these tea partiers, along with conservative Anglos everywhere, don't understand.

They don't understand that under the policies of right-wing Republicans, African Americans - as well as the poor and other people of color - suffered under the "trickle down" economics that rewarded the wealthy businessmen and big corporations while exuding an attitude of "To hell with the poor!" and espousing a view of "Why should blacks get special treatment?!"

They don't understand that just because the "Whites Only" signs are gone and the n-word is now seen as vile hate speech, along with the fact that African American teenagers no longer have to attend school under armed protection, doesn't mean that there aren't whites who regard blacks as inferior.

They don't understand that there are plenty of Caucasians of European descent with conservative views who wouldn't think of donning white sheets or torturing people of color in the street, yet feel the same way as the folks who do those things, who feel that they are superior to anyone who is black (or Latino) because of skin color and culture.

Most of all, conservative whites in the tea party - and elsewhere - seem to refuse to understand that despite popular opinion, socialism does not mean denial of human rights and basic freedoms that characterize places like Cuba and North Korea. According to none other than the Bible, which white conservatives hold so dear to their hearts, socialism is based on the notion of "All who believed were together and had all things in common; and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need." (Acts, 2:44-45)

In short, socialism is based on the concept of economic equality and the assurance that no one is left wanting or in poverty, rather than totalitarian oppression. Except for Native Americans, no group of people have suffered more under the capitalist mindset that this tea party loves so than blacks of African descent.

In my opinion, that's why the NAACP sees the tea party movement as racists - not because they are blatant bigots in the style of the KKK, but because their preferred capitalist and free enterprise policies have hurt black people as a whole and have kept them as an underclass in American society, with relatively few exceptions.

I'm sure that this flagship civil rights organization, which was founded in 1906, has wondered why the overwhelming majority of tea partiers are white. As an African American male, I would certainly ask that question if I ever encountered one of them.

I'd also suggest to the particpants of this movement that they need to take a long, hard look at themselves and answer this:

If President Obama were white, would there be a such backlash against him? In fact, would there even be a tea party at all?

And if race is playing no factor in all of this (as they claim), then why are most of the tea party's followers white?

Although I speculate that many of these people would say yes to the first two questions, that skin color has played no part in their campaign whatsoever, I cannot help but to think that for at least some whites involved, the answer would be no, that if Obama were white there wouldn't be such a backlash as this.

Even if they are too ashamed to admit it to themselves.

There is one thing that I know: This is definitely an issue that will take a long time to resolve.



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